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July 17, 2006

Tom Frame, RIP


Tom Frame, whose distinct lettering for decades on the Judge Dredd series in 2000AD made him a largely unsung but vital part of a cultural phenomenon and allowed him a platform for one of the most unique contributions in the crafting of comics in the last 30 years, passed away on July 14. In a touching on-line journal entry on Frame from that day, writer and ex-2000AD editor David Bishop gave the cause of death as cancer.

Frame's unique approach to lettering, both rough and imposing, was as much a visual signifier of the Dredd series as the character's costume or rich background illustration. "There are only four names that mean Judge Dredd to me -- [writer John] Wagner, [artist Brian] Bolland, [artist Mike] McMahon and Frame," Richard Starkings of Comicraft told Comics Reporter. "Not to be funny, but I always thought of Tom as a Capital Letterer -- his work stood tall in the pages of 2000AD because his strong, narrow no-nonsense letters fit the tone of the Judge Dredd strip to a tee. Dredd and Death never 'sounded' quite right if Tom wasn't putting the words near their mouths. When I was lucky enough to letter Dredd when Tom happened to be on holiday, I'd look at the work I'd done and thought how much better it would have looked if Tom had lettered it."

Bishop remembers his longtime workmate as a "kind-hearted grouch" and notes his contributions to the early coloring of the 2000 AD covers and center spread. Says Starking, "I would often see Tom in the 2000AD offices of IPC's dusty and musty King's Reach Tower in the '80s; he had a somewhat grouchy air about him, but would be hard at work and, on the odd occasion that he spoke to me, always had an encouraging word." Comics writer Andy Diggle wrote after noting Frame's professional accomplishiments, "More importantly, he was a hell of a nice bloke, much loved, and he will be missed."

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posted 1:11 am PST | Permalink

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